What do you think about those success stories where one guy goes from “rags to riches”? I hate them.
Why? Because they usually (not most of them) are written to convince you to buy some guru’s course on how to become rich, right?
So why this post might change your life? Let me confess first. I don’t drive a Ferrari. I don’t live in a mansion. I don’t own a private jet. Instead, I’ve managed to quit the 9 to 5 race and achieve financial independence. I’ve built a location independent small business (while having a fulltime job) that makes me some good cash.
How? Well, there was (and still is) a lot of work. I’ve read a lot of books. I’ve watched hundreds of hours of videos. I went to events. But these 5 books we’re going to talk about today completely changed my life. They’ve taught me how to:
- Have the same mindset 99% of billionaires have
- Persuade almost anyone, from customers to friends and family
- Double my productivity
- Start a small business even if I had a 9 to 5 job
- Always keep my motivation levels high and feel happy and good about myself (even during hard times)
And now you can learn the same things because I want to share with you some essential takeaways from each book. And something more. We all know that there’s one thing in theory and another one in practice. So I want to show you some concrete examples of how I took specific lessons and applied them to get new clients, to quit my job, etc. You’ll find even some useful templates you can steal.
So let’s not waste any more time dive right in.
1. Rich Dad Poor Dad (Robert Kiyosaki)
Do you want to be your boss?
Do you want somewhere in the future to have the possibility not to work, unless you want that?
And more important, do you want to learn how all financially successful people think? You should start reading this book.
What’s so special about it? Here’s a something that poor people don’t know. Getting financially successful isn’t just about information. If it were, everyone would be fit and healthy, right? We all know what we need to do to have six packs, right? And if we don’t, a simple Google search will give us all we need.
What is it then? It’s the mindset. Successful people think in different ways about money. Here are some critical lessons from this book:
a) Work to learn. Don’t work for money
I always thought that if I want to be successful, I have to work hard (for others). Until I’ve heard Kiyosaki’s version too, he says that if rich people set goals for themselves and then work to learn the skills, they need to achieve them. But I didn’t have a goal. And I didn’t know how to set them up properly. So I started imagining how the “perfect job,” and perfect life would look.
Of course, I tried to keep it as realistic as I could.
Then, I looked at successful entrepreneurs. They all know how to sell. Whether it’s themselves or their products or services, they know how to influence people. And then I went even further. I tried to think what’s the most critical skill to get a better-paid job, to sell your services or even to get a girl’s number. A standard answer kept coming around: communication and persuasion. So I said to myself “What the heck. This guy is a millionaire. He must know something, right?”
Soon after this, I started to work for a marketing company for free to learn how to influence people. Now I use the same skills to work for my own company, have my private clients, decide who I want to work with when I get up and “go to work” and so on. You see, I worked for free for a while. But that free work was only a part of my strategy to achieve my goal.
b) Buy things that make money for you
Do you recognize this pattern?
Probably 80% of people go to work for money. With that money, they buy expensive stuff things that might not need, to keep up with the Joneses – a bigger car, a bigger house, a big TV, etc.Then they have to work even harder to pay for all the new stuff.
You know what rich people?
Quite the opposite. They invest in things that make them money. Like renting an apartment or investing in a new business. Or buying stock etc. Here’s how I tried to apply this lesson. I was a student, and I had $500 in savings. I also had a dog, and I was a member of a Facebook group of dog lovers. I bought the group ($500 meant a lot in my country at that time), and I started selling dog clothes to that existing community. You see, I didn’t buy a Ferrari from that small gig. But that mentality stuck with me till this day. Now instead of buying a luxurious car, for example, I reinvest the money to grow the business and get more clients. Then I can buy the car or whatever, without having to work my ass off to pay for it.
c) Surround Yourself with People Smarter than You
If you observe people who have a lot of money, you’ll notice something exciting: rich or even more affluent people surround them. And this is common sense. If you want to start a business, hang out with people who already own one. You’re not going to learn how to run a business from people who don’t own one, right?
2. How to Win Friends and Influence People (Dale Carnegie)
Want to make more money? Read this book.
Want to convince other people to buy from you? Read this book.
Want to become the popular guy in any party/event/conference? You know what I’m going to say 🙂
Here are some lessons I’ve learned and how they helped me in different situations:
a) Don’t criticize, condemn or complain
Can you think about a time that you received criticism in some way?
Even if you did something wrong, you resented that person, right? We achieve nothing by condemning people. All we manage to accomplish is put people on the defense mode. So, what can you do instead?
Here’s what I did when colleagues at work did something wrong.
I tried to come up with an excuse for the other person. I tried to understand why they did what they did.
“I should forgive him or her for this because …” and I ended up this sentence with an open mind.
I started the conversation by letting the other person know that I get them.
“Hey, John, I noticed you [insert what he did wrong]. I guess it was probably because [insert some excuse they would tell themselves].
I suggested an alternative of improvement.
Here’s an alternative how we could improve this. You see, instead of being me vs. him or her, it’s we. And we don’t try to fix something terrible, but we try to improve something.
And the best part is that you can apply this to just about anyone.
Here’s an email I sent to one of my designers I work with:
b) Give honest and sincere appreciation
Instead of criticizing people, try to see why a person did what he or she did (good or bad, doesn’t matter) and appreciate them.
Did they achieve some great results? Congratulate them.
Did they screw up? Appreciate them for trying and suggest a way to improve.
“Ok, but people sense flattery right away!?” You are right. So here’s how a trick to avoid sounding fake: be specific. Instead of saying: “What a nice dress,” try “I like how your purse goes with this flowery dress.” Or, let’s say you send an outreach email to ask for something. Try not to be vague like: “I liked your article about this subject.”
Instead, focus on the details:
Listen 80% of the time. Talk only 20%
This will help you win more friends and clients than anything else. Why?
Think about it. Who are you more interested in you or me? You, of course. It’s perfectly reasonable, right?
Here’s how I used this to improve my conversion rate for my dental marketing agency dramatically. Instead of boasting my skills and trying to convince people that I provide the best dental marketing strategies on the planet I asked a lot of questions. I asked things like:
Why does this work?
Because people feel that you want to help them and you’re not interested only in the money.
Ask questions. Listen 80% of the time and talk only 20%.
3. Getting things done (David Allen)
Starting a business can be pretty hard. Starting a business while having a 9 to 5 job can be exhausting.
I usually got home after 6 pm. So I had only a couple of hours left to:
- Learn new things
- Get my first clients
- Get results for my new clients
The problem is, when you are overwhelmed, you can’t think straight anymore. And then you feel stuck. And then your business doesn’t grow. So you get caught up in this vicious circle. So, how did I manage to do twice as more in half the time?
Here are just a couple of tricks:
a) Organize your week and set priorities
You know that feeling when you’re super busy, but you see no results? This is because we usually focus on the big picture. We’re busy instead of efficient.
So here’s what you can do to avoid my mistakes. Take some time at the beginning of each week and write down:
- Things you managed to do the previous week
- Things you didn’t manage to do
- And are your goals for the next week
But there’s something more here. There are always unexpected situations that come up. This is why you need to make sure the most important tasks – those that help you achieve your goal – get done first.
Here’s how my weekly plan overview looks like:
b) Break tasks into actionable steps and assign a time-frame for each of them
Here’s an example of how I used to plan my tasks:
See how vague they are?
- Time specific
And here’s how they look now:
c) Prepare for the inevitable
Sometimes you feel pumped up. You know you can do everything on your to-do list. But then, something unexpected happens and messes up with your plans. You didn’t finish what you planned, and now you feel disappointed. Here’s how to avoid this. Don’t fill up your calendar. Schedule a buffer time for unexpected matters. Block an hour or two each day for things you don’t expect.
d) Don’t let important things for the evening and don’t check email first in the morning
These two go hand in hand. What’s the trick?
First, in the morning you have the highest level of energy. This is why you should start doing the most difficult tasks in the morning. Especially if you have some creative work to do. Second, if you want to be more productive, don’t open your email until you’ve finished your most important task. Why?
Because emails usually mean more things in need of addressing. And you don’t want those to stay on your mind while you are trying to do something extraordinary.
4. Influence (Dr. Robert Cialdini)
If you want to learn how to influence people, you should read this book at least a couple of time.
With over three million copies sold and a current listing on the New York Times Best Seller list and Fortune lists it in their “75 Smartest Business Books”, this is the “Bible” of persuasion.
Because it offers some simple rules that are so powerful that even if you are aware of them, you’ll still be affected by them. Here is how I used some principles learned in the book.
a) Liking – if we like a person, we’re more inclined to accept what they ask us to do
This doesn’t seem so helpful at first, since how do you make people like you, right?
There are lots of ways.
Here’s how the email intro I sent to Nissar to ask if I can write on this website:
You see, sometimes all you need is say exactly what you think. No fake excuses.
b) Commitment & consistency – We tend to be consistent with our previous decisions
We’ve all heard the phrase: “Would you like fries with that?”
This is a perfect example of the commitment that sold millions of more fries each year. Why does this work?
Dr. Cialdini says that “once we have made a choice or taken a stand, we will encounter personal and interpersonal pressures to behave consistently with that commitment. Those pressures will cause us to respond in ways that justify our earlier decision.” How could you use this?
On my website, instead of asking people to inquire about my services, I ask them to request a free consultation. Why this works better?
Because once they’ve taken a small step, they’ll feel more inclined to stick with their original decision (which is to work with me). Just like Mc Donald’s lures you in with low-priced burgers.
c) Social proof – We rely on what others say more than we think we do
I think there’s nothing more powerful than social proof. Why?
Because long ago, our ancestors understood that, to maximize their chances for survival, it was in their best interests to form groups of like-minded individuals. So they lived in groups, hunted in groups, protected each other in groups. Everyone had a vital role that contributed to the success of the entire tribe. When the group ate, you ate. When it slept, you slept. When it packed up and moved, you moved. If it died—well, you get the picture.
We have a compelling psychological need to belong. Our brains are hard-wired to follow others, especially when we don’t have enough information to decide for ourselves. And the best part, you can use this just about in any area of your life.
d) To get clients
When I quit my job, I entered into an entirely new domain – marketing. So basically my portfolio was non-existent.
What did I do? I wrote some articles, for free, on some other websites.
Then, when I pitched clients to get work (to write articles for them), I referenced those free guest posts as social proof.
e) To influence friends
Let’s say you want to convince your friends to go to a bar you like.
But saying “let’s go there, because I like it there” might sound selfish. And it’s not a good argument, right?
What you could do instead is mention how other people or other friends always go there and have a great time. Or how popular that bar is becoming.
f) To be more popular
Want to have more friends, be appreciated more often by more people? Copy this trick from influencers.
If you look on an influencer’s page (especially those who aren’t yet quite so popular), they always have pictures with other people. Why?
Because in this way they communicate to your subconscious that they are popular. If other people always surround them, it must be because they’re cool, right?
5. Meditations by Marcus Aurelius
Imagine having a set of guiding principles for any situation in life – from going bankrupt, to getting fired or even death of the loved ones. That is what this book covers. Written in Greek, without any intention of publication, by the only Roman emperor who was also a philosopher, the Meditations of Marcus Aurelius (AD 121-180) offer a remarkable series of challenging spiritual reflections and exercises developed as the emperor struggled to understand himself and make sense of the universe.
Memento Mori translates to mean “remember you will die.” Don’t think of it as a morbid practice. This is not meant to get you depressed. Appropriately used, memento mori is a tool to create priority and meaning, without having to die to tap into this nearly. A simple reminder can bring us closer to living the life we want.
I used this to:
1) Become a doer, instead of being just a dreamer
We all want to live a rich and fulfilling life. The problem is, most people think that one day it will “just happen.” But the problem is, you don’t have 500 years to have the luxury to “just wait.” And unless you’re damn lucky, if you don’t work on those goals every single day, you won’t achieve much, and you’ll end up old and full of regrets. Memento Mori helps you not forget that.
2) Enjoy important moments in life
We live in the century of speed, and we sometimes forget the things that matter. Like laughing with a friend. Or appreciating the loved ones, your spouse, your kid, your friends. You can’t put a price tag on these things.
You can always make more money, but you cannot make more time. So, enjoy the little moments. Take some time to relax, listen to a friend, and give a hug to your spouse and your kid.
3) Start with the end in mind
Don’t get this wrong. Having an end in mind is no guarantee that you’ll reach it. But, how can you be happy, if you don’t know what happiness means to you? How can you achieve success, if you have no clue what success means to you? It’s like trying to reach a destination you don’t know.
What can you do about it?
Take some time to meditate on how:
- Your perfect day would look like
- Your ideal life would look like
- Your dream job/business would look like
- Your best family life would look like
Be as specific as you can. But you might say: “Ok, but maybe in 10 years my goals might change”. And you are right. We are always adapting, evolving and probably reinventing ourselves. And when this happens, you can always change course. But at least you know where you’re going. And when you encounter some obstacles in life, you’ll know how to get back on track.
Finally: The Most Important Advice for Success in any Area of Life
Here’s the simplest and most efficient way to become the person you want to become. Find a person (or several people) who already live the life you want, who already know what you want to know. And then ask them to teach you.
Oh, you cannot ask Bill Gates or Warren Buffet to tell you how they made their money? Maybe you are right. But you can read their books, right? Or you can read the books they’ve read, right? Or you can read their biographies. Or listen to some speeches they gave.
Never stop learning, and I guarantee you’ll see tremendous progress in your life.